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Class Is In Session!

I took a picture of this because I knew no one would believe me if I didn't.

As soon as I walked into the bleachers last night, I came upon this scene in right field. Hee-Seop Choi was apparently trying to teach Corey Patterson how to hit:

(as always, click on photo to view full-size in new browser window; if you are using IE, you may have to click the lower-right corner of the image to expand it to its full size; in Firefox click anywhere on the image. Photo by Al)

This went on for nearly half an hour. Hee-Seop was rather animatedly showing Corey how to position his feet, how to hold the bat, how to swing (maybe that's why Corey swings at high pitches -- he sees Hee-Seop swinging at them, and figures he also should be doing this, not remembering that he is seven inches shorter than his Korean ex-teammate).

What's funniest about this is that I know Choi doesn't speak much English and I doubt Corey speaks any Korean.

It didn't matter for either player; Corey only got into the game as a pinch-runner for pinch-hitter Scott McClain (who got his first Cub hit, a line-drive double) -- this brought the inevitable comments from me and Howard at about the same time about how long it'd take for him to get picked off; he stayed in the game in CF, and Choi was double-switched into the game when the Cubs chased Brad Penny in their four-run sixth inning. He had one at-bat (grounded out) and then, oddly, was removed for Olmedo Saenz in the ninth in a reverse platoon move by Jim Tracy.

The Cubs beat the Dodgers 6-3, and it seemed as if someone other than Dusty Baker was managing the Cubs last night. Mark Prior won his tenth game, but Baker, who normally will let his starters throw 120 pitches, took him out after six innings and only 94 throws. Baker also had Henry Blanco execute a suicide squeeze -- done perfectly with Todd Walker on third base, where he had arrived after Matt Murton had also laid down a bunt.

We also have solved the Jose F. Macias problem (he pinch-hit and grounded out last night). We can have him stuffed and mounted, and put on wheels. Dusty can wheel him into whatever batter's box he chooses, depending on the handedness of the pitcher. Since he won't be able to move his bat, he'll actually look at pitches, draw walks, and then the Cubs can pinch-run for him. You're welcome!

It was cooler last night than on Monday, and some ugly-looking but harmless dark gray clouds loomed over the field, the closest we'll see to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina -- that, and the wind whipping out from CF toward RF, that blew what would have been an ordinary flyout by Nomar Garciaparra into a first-row home run in the second inning. The wind also blew several pop flies down the 1B and RF line that on other days would have been caught easily, into the seats.

I'd like to interrupt our usual discussion of baseball to say how absolutely stunned I am at the scope of the devastation in human terms, from this incredible hurricane. Baseball's fun, but this destruction is reality for so many people. I'm going to make a donation to help, and you can too by clicking on this Red Cross link. I did this when the tsunami hit Indonesia last December, and I think it's the least we can do.

The announced attendance of 37,552 was only about 100 fewer than Monday's (and it appeared that there were close to 30,000 in the house), despite the somewhat threatening weather, belying the thoughts of some who think that people are just staying home. School being in session and the cooler weather are the likely culprits; today's delightful weather forecast may make this afternoon's attendance a bit larger, as sunny days often bring a walkup sale, even when the Cubs are doing poorly.

My brother-in-law, his wife and two young sons joined Mark and me last night. I should tell you that they are responsible for the Cubs falling behind early, as they got up from the seats twice -- once to buy food, once to buy souvenirs. Each time they got up, a Dodger hit a solo homer (Mike Edwards in the 2nd, Jeff Kent in the 6th). Once I explained this to them, they stayed put the rest of the game, and that set the stage for the Cubs' four-run explosion in the bottom of the sixth, the biggest blow being Blanco's two-run single, which gave him three RBI for the game and 17 for the season in only 120 AB.

The bullpen did a good job last night as well; Will Ohman, Roberto Novoa and Ryan Dempster threw three scoreless innings, and they would have been hitless if Dempster hadn't decided to stretch things out by allowing two ninth-inning singles after two were out. Dempster registered his 20th save, an impressive total considering:

  • he didn't get his first one until May 17, the season's 37th game, and
  • there have been two eight-game losing streaks since then.

The Cubs can win their first series in their last four -- since they were in Houston two weeks ago! -- with a win this afternoon. While that's ultimately meaningless -- and it feels very odd to be at the ballpark at this time of year watching games that don't mean much; it's been three years since that's happened -- winning is winning, enjoyable is enjoyable, and we'll take what we can get.

I'll have a game thread up in a couple of hours.